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Communication between Health Care Providers and Cancer Patients

I recently received an email from "A grieving granddaughter in Mississippi" who was upset, disappointed and discouraged with the lack of effective communication between the health care providers and her family over her grandmother's diagnosis, treatment options and respect.

This is an essential topic to address currently whether dealing with cancer patients or individuals with other diseases. For many years physicians and other health care providers were given very little information on communicating successfully with patients and families or other health care providers. I was fortunate, I had a role model. My father, Dr. John King, is a retired physician. When I was growing up I would spend time with him at his office or the hospital and everyone used to tell me how wonderful he was with patients and families. Sadly, many others have not been as fortunate.

There is some good news though. Medical schools, nursing schools and other health care disciplines are beginning courses on communication. Some even videotape the students and critique them.

The other good news is that my father and I are writing a book that will be out soon that is designed for the patient and family and how you can improve communication with your healthcare provider (physician, nurse practitioner etc).

I am saddened that "A Grieving granddaughter in Mississippi" had such a horrible experience with the care of her dear grandmother. But there are things you can do to be an advocate for your loved one. I will discuss some of these in the next few posts., but remember you can always switch health care providers or get a second opinion. I hope at least for this granddaughter that her beloved grandmother (who has chosen no treatment) may pass without excessive pain and suffering.
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